Grilling Pork Tenderloin

The Perils Of Grilling Pork Tenderloin

While the title may suggest grilling pork tenderloin is fraught with danger, and best left to the professional chef, it's all a matter of knowing what to do and when to do it. A pork tenderloin is a rather special cut of meat, in that it's too small to prepare like a roast and too large to place on the grill and cook like a T-bone steak. It's a kind of in-between cut of meat that requires an in-between cooking process.

One can argue all night as to whether grilling pork tenderloin is best done over charcoal or over a gas grill. Either way can end up as a disaster and either way can give you the best pork tenderloin you've ever eaten. In other words, whether you fire up the gas grill or used the faithful Weber, it really doesn't matter so much, although the former method is usually a bit easier, and with a gas grill you have a little more control over the grilling process. It's claimed that the ultra-best grilled pork tenderloin happens when the meat is cooked on a rotisserie.

Actually, in spite of its somewhat odd size and shape, a standard cut of pork tenderloin really lends itself to grilling. Choose a cut of meat that has a nice red color and does not have a grayish or brownish tinge. Anything other than a rich even color will yield second rate results and not the 5-star meat dish you're capable of preparing.

Not A Symmetrical Cut Of Meat - Once you've purchased your pork tenderloin you may notice the first challenge facing you. Instead of a nice symmetrical cut of meat, your tenderloin will be thick and one end and taper off, becoming rather thin at the other end. Some compare the look to the shape of a fish. Obviously if you take the pork from the grill when the tapered end is done, the fat end will not be adequately cooked. If you wait until the fat end is cooked, the tapered end may have a blackened and crispy appearance, and not be very tasty.

One way to get around this problem is to cut the tenderloin in half, cooking both halves according to their thickness. If you're careful though, and especially if you're using a rotisserie, you can probably cook the whole piece of meat without too much of a problem.

Prepare The Meat To Taste Before Grilling - You'll get better flavor if you rub the meat first with garlic or other herbs, but that's strictly a matter of taste. Don't poke holes in the meat if you can avoid it, as the juices will tend to run out, and pork can dry out very quickly if that happens. Soaking the pork in a brine mixture for 45 minutes will also contribute to the taste. Soaking the meat in brine longer will usually improve the taste even more.

The Three Stages Of Grilling - When grilling the meat on a gas grill, heat up the covered grill for a few minutes first, at least 10 minutes under high heat is recommended. Then place the tenderloin on the grill, sear it for 6 or 7 minutes to seal in the juices, turn it over, and sear the other side, for one or two minutes less. The searing will do most of the cooking. The heat is then turned off. The tenderloin is left on the grill, under cover, for another 5 minutes. By then, the meat should be thoroughly cooked. A meat thermometer can be helpful here. If the thermometer registers 150F in the thickest part of the cut, the meat is well done.

If there's a “secret” here, it's letting the searing process do the bulk of the cooking, then letting the meat sit on the grill with the heat turned off to finish the process, as opposed to trying to “cook” the meat evenly from start to finish. The perils of grilling pork tenderloin become apparent if you try to grill it like any other piece of meat.